Argentina ended its Antarctic campaign | Polarjournal
“The South Atlantic is a permanent geopolitical, military and strategic objective of Argentina, in which Antarctica clearly plays a very important role,” said Minister Rossi at the reception ceremony next to the ARA “Almirante Irízar”. (Photo: IAA)

According to the Dirección Nacional del Antártico, the Antarctic campaign 2020/21 was successfully completed last week after the arrival of the icebreaker ARA “Almirante Irízar” in the port of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the precautionary measures, not a single positive Covid-19 case was recorded among the nearly 400 crew members, military personnel and scientists.

The ARA “Almirante Irízar” is a large icebreaker of the Argentine Navy. The ship was built in 1975 by the Wärtsilä shipyard in Finland. In 2007, a fire broke out in her auxiliary generator room, putting the icebreaker out of service until April 2017. (Photo: IAA)

After an absence of more than five months, the icebreaker ARA “Almirante Irízar” returned to Buenos Aires. This was the longest deployment of the ARA “Almirante Irízar” after launching in Buenos Aires without further landfall in Argentina, as the entire crew had to perform quarantines and comply with hygiene protocols. The first priority was to prevent coronavirus infections in Antarctica.

The Antarctic campaign was conducted under strict control regimes through quarantines, PCR testing for COVID-19 diagnosis and contingency plans for possible positive cases, the government reported.

The main task was to supply the six permanently manned Argentine research stations (Orcadas, Marambio, San Martín, Carlini, Esperanza and Belgrano II) with supplies and to exchange personnel. At the same time, waste and garbage were also taken back for disposal.

Esperanza Station is located at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. The station is staffed year-round, with approximately 60 people during the winter months. By maintaining a permanent settlement, Argentina seeks to bolster its claims to the Argentine Antarctic Territory. Esperanza Station is the birthplace of Emilio Palma, who was born on January 7, 1978. He is the first human born on the Antarctic mainland. The Argentine Personnel Registry records a total of eight persons born at Esperanza Station between 1978 and 1983. (Image: Heiner Kubny)

The icebreaker “Almirante Irízar”, as well as the ARA transport “Bahía Agradable” and the freighter ARA “Canal Beagle” were involved in the mission to supply and exchange personnel and material at the Antarctic bases.

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, some summer bases did not become operational. However, some of them were inspected and emergency repairs were carried out at the Cámara, Petrel and Decepción bases.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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